[Class 4] Salary Negotiation Fast Class

What to say when asked for your salary requirements

Welcome to class 4 of Salary Negotiation Fast Class, where you’ll learn the skills you need to get paid what you’re worth in just 7 days.

In the past few days, I’ve talked about adopting a great mindset, finding your worth, and creating documents that can assist you during your interview or performance review.

But now the prep is over and you’re being asked about your requirements. How do you handle that? Let’s look at:

The golden rules of salary negotiation

  • Avoid “Required Salary” boxes on applications
  • Do not be the first person to bring up salary
  • Defer all salary talk until you know they want you
  • Get the company to reveal their number first
  • Consider the other person’s perspective

As you can see, there are several points in the process where you’ll be asked about salary, so let’s quickly break down each one.

Avoiding “Required Salary” boxes on applications

From the moment you start looking for a job, one of the biggest obstacles to winning the war of effectively negotiating your salary often comes before you ever meet HR: Filling out an online application for the job, or a paper form before your first interview.

Here’s why: Once you reveal your previous or desired salary, it significantly affects the way you can leverage a higher salary for a new position.

How to handle it: Essentially, avoid answering the question by putting “competitive” or “to be discussed during interview” in place of a number. It gets a bit trickier when filling out an online form, so the only truly effective way to bypass this issue is to not get put in that position in the first place. That means skipping over the crowded job boards in favor of networking, where it’s more likely you’ll get a personal introduction to a hiring manager.

Because there are more nuances around this, I’ve written a longer article called, How to Bypass the “Desired Salary” Field on Online Job Applications.

Do not be the first person to bring up salary

This one is straight-forward. Once you get the interview, let the hiring manager be the first one to bring up the topic of salary. Doing so beforehand can make you look like money is your top priority, vs. making sure you’re a good fit for the job.


Defer all salary talk until you know they want you for the job

Likewise, you want to avoid talking money too early in the process. Why do employers want to know your salary requirements as quickly as possible? In a lot of cases, it makes perfect sense. There’s no reason to waste everyone’s time interviewing someone for a job that pays $45,000, when the job seeker is targeting a salary of $85,000.

Companies often get hundreds of resumes for a position, and your previous or desired salary can be used to gauge your level of experience and fit. In short, it’s a quick and easy way for companies to judge and eliminate candidates.

Your goal, however, is not to get eliminated. The longer you can hold out and prove that you are the best person for the job, the more leverage you have when it’s time to make an offer.

Example: Deferring when asked your current salary

They ask: “So, what are they paying you now over at Moore and Associates?”

You respond: “Well, Moore and Associates has been a great job for the last few years. I’ve really gained a lot of experience there that I think will be directly relevant to this position. But what I’m really focused on right now is learning everything I can about this job.”

Example: Deferring when asked your desired salary

They ask: “So, what were you thinking in terms of salary?”

You respond: “Well, I’ve actually done a fair amount of research while preparing for this interview, which I’d be happy to share with you later if we both decide there’s a good fit here. What I found is that there was a pretty wide range depending on a number of factors, and I’d really need to have the full picture of all the responsibilities before I know what that range is.”

Get the company to reveal their number first

anchorIn cases where the candidate has a really good indication of the company’s budget, has skills that are high in demand, or the job role is vague, it’s wise for them to throw out a number first – making it a high one – to set the stage for negotiation.

This is called anchoring, and the thinking behind it is that all future discussion will play off of that initial number.

But in my experience, the better strategy is to have the interviewer state their number first. I teach people how to do this by tailoring the response to their specific situation, as well as how to respond afterward, through my “Right back at ya” method. Here’s a quick example.

Example: Getting them to reveal a number first

They ask: “So, what were you thinking in terms of salary?”

You respond: “In regard to compensation, I took the job at [current job] in order to make a career transition into [new field] and expand my skill set. As you’ve seen, I’ve now acquired some amazing experience that I am looking forward to bringing to this new job, so I’m not sure my current salary is a great indicator for this new role. I’ve done my homework and have a good idea of the market value for someone with my skill set, so I was curious what kind of range you had in mind for this position.”

Consider the other person’s perspective

Throughout any negotiation, you always want to consider the perspective of the other party.

People often ask:

  • Don’t I have to fill out every single form that they ask me to?
  • Won’t the hiring manager get angry if I don’t answer them directly?
  • Will they just give the job to someone else if I seem difficult?

These are all important concerns. At all times, you need to be dialed in to the mood and attitude of the person you are speaking with – you never want to come off as confrontational. However, if you conduct yourself in a calm, business-like manner, you can almost always end up with a fair deal.

Taking it a step further, especially if you’re a valued employee thinking of leaving, sometimes you have more leverage than you think. Watch this scenario:

Class 4 Summary

The clock starts ticking the moment you are asked about salary for the first time, whether it’s on an online form or in a screening interview. How you handle it has a huge outcome on the final number that you settle on. While we can’t cover every nuance here, by following the steps listed, you put yourself in good shape to end up with a number that will make you happy.

Coming up tomorrow: Negotiation phrases that pay

Fast Class Agenda:

[Class 1] Earning more starts with a negotiation mindset
[Class 2] How much am I worth?
[Class 3] To earn more money, bring these documents to your interview (Hint: it’s not your resume)
[Class 4] What to say when asked for your salary requirements
[Class 5] Negotiation phrases that pay
[Class 6] Will you back down first in this negotiation showdown?
[Class 7] The Aha moment of Salary Negotiation Success